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Global car sales to hit 73.8m units in 2013: Polk

Wind in the sales: Worldwide registrations are predicted to continue growing in to 2014 despite a European down-turn.

North America, Asia to drive record global car sales this year despite Euro downturn

28 Jun 2013

GLOBAL growth of new-vehicle registrations is expected to increase more than three per cent this year to a new record of almost 74 million units, despite recent falls in most key markets and deepening declines in Europe, according to automotive research firm R L Polk and Co.

In an update on ‘global passenger vehicles sales development’ released recently, based on data to the end of May, Polk has forecast that worldwide new registrations will reach 73,795,889 units in 2013 – another record results that represents a solid 3.3 per cent increase over last year’s 71,468,230 result, which marked an 8.3 per cent rise over 2011.

Polk also anticipates sales will continue climbing in 2014, predicting world new car registrations to rise 4.2 per cent to almost 77 million (76,924,288).

To the end of May this year, global new-vehicle registrations were up 3.9 per cent to just over 31 million units year to date, although growth experienced in earlier months plateaued in May with 6,167,029 sales (down 0.4 per cent on the corresponding month in 2012).

The Polk data shows that the May result was singlehandedly kept afloat by the resurgent North American market, with new-vehicle sales from countries in the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) region – the US, Canada and Mexico – up 9.0 per cent.

Sales in this region are expected to continue rebounding, surpassing 18 million units for the year – up from 16.97 million units in 2012.

In comparison, sales in the Asia-Pacific region, which represents the largest world market and includes China, India, the Middle East and Australia, were down 4.0 per cent in May, owing largely to the Japanese market (down 9.0 per cent) which is struggling to keep pace with 2012.

Year to date, however, sales in the Asia-Pacific region are up 6.0 per cent compared to last year – a figure that Polk believes will drop to around 4.0 for the full year, with growth in the all-important Chinese market, the world’s biggest market with 19.3 million units last year, holding steady at 0.3 per cent.

The entire Asia-Pacific region accounted for 30.8 million units in 2012, with 31.96 million forecast for 2013.

Down 7.0 per cent in May, Central and Eastern Europe is, according to Polk, is “continuing to suffer from the impact of the financial crisis, and this effect has now spread permanently to Russia, where new registrations declined by a surprisingly steep amount (down 12 per cent) in May for the second time in a row”.

Western Europe was also down, by 5.6 per cent, with the most severe slumps reported by France and Germany, where demand declined 10 per cent in each case. Only the UK reported growth (up 11 per cent).

Year to date, Central/Eastern Europe is down 1.0 per cent compared to a year ago, and overall growth for the region over the full year is expected to be less than 2.0 per cent “due to the fact that the situation in Russia has now worsened”.

Lower oil prices have also prompted Polk to reduce its forecast for the region to 4.6 million for the year.

Western European passenger vehicle demand for 2013 is also expected to decline for the fourth year in a row, with the “crisis-ridden region”, as Polk describes it, down 7.0 per cent YTD and improving only slightly in the months ahead to finish out the year at around 11.3 million units – the lowest number of new registrations since 1985.

At this stage, Polk is, however, forecasting that Western Europe will return to positive territory in 2014 with growth of around four per cent.

Latin American sales are expected to grow from 5.98 million last year to 6.2 million this year, while Polk is anticipating that car sales in Africa will increase about 100,000 units to 1.6 million over the 12-month period.

Australian new registrations were up 4.5 per cent to the end of May, to 454,953 units. The seasonally adjusted annual rate is 1.129 million new-vehicle sales, which would put the industry ahead of last year’s record total of 1.112 million units.

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